Justice Minister Marian Horne has won the Yukon Party’s nomination for Whitehorse Centre, setting the stage for an election battle between her and NDP Leader Liz Hanson.
Few would have expected such a lineup just a few weeks ago. Then, Horne, as a sitting cabinet minister, would have been expected a safe bet to return as the Yukon Party’s candidate in her home riding of Pelly-Nisutlin.
But Horne was unceremoniously turfed by her riding association, which picked Stacey Hassard as its new candidate earlier this month. At the time, Horne cried foul, alleging that Hassard “ambushed” her with a secret campaign to have her removed.
Not long after, the Yukon Party sewed up its election roster, leaving Horne out of the picture.
Then, last week, Lana Putnam dropped out as the Yukon Party’s downtown candidate. Putnam explained she’s still mourning the death of her son, who committed suicide in January, and realized she wasn’t up for public life yet.
So Horne’s back. But, to continue her political career, she’ll need to win what may be one of the most difficult electoral fights in the territory.
Hanson isn’t called “Landslide Liz” for nothing. She won more than half the vote in December’s downtown byelection.
And the Yukon NDP’s seen an upswing in public support, with a recent poll putting them neck-and-neck with the Yukon Party.
Horne’s decision to run in the riding is “strange,” said Hanson. She noted that Horne appeared unsympathetic to calls for a homeless shelter to be built downtown.
The other challenger in the downtown riding is the Liberals’ Patrick Singh, who owns a music store and the Main Street hotdog stand.
Singh questioned why Horne would seek the downtown when she doesn’t have a clear connection to the riding.
“To me it sounds like political opportunism. It seems to me her party threw her off a cliff, and she’s just finding a way back in.”
Horne didn’t return calls to the News by press time.
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